Classic Review – La Haine (1995)

Title – La Haine (1995)

Director – Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika)

Cast – Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui

Plot – Follows a 24 hour period in the lives of three young men based in Paris in the aftermath of violent riots and a vicious police beating of one of their friends.

“How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land!”

Review by Eddie on 20/05/2021

An incendiary independent black and white offering from France that has managed to remain relevant and oft spoken about these 25 plus years on from initial release, Mathieu Kassovitz’s personal and heartfelt La Haine (simply meaning The Hate) is a memorable exploration of social injustice and simmering tensions and a feat its filmmaker will always struggle too top.

Following up his work here with some serious forgettable forays into Hollywood such as Gothika and Babylon A.D. and a spattering of other forgotten about foreign films, actor/director Kassovitz can always hang his hat on La Haine as a documentary like exploration of his home city and his own experiences as youth in the often boiling pot of emotions that exist in France’s most well-known city.

Never bothering with a straight forward narrative driver, as Kassovitz instead examines an event filled 24 hours in the lives of acquittances and Paris residents Vinz (Cassel), Hubert (Kounde) and Said (Taghmaoui), with the three teenagers full of anger and hostility following on from their involvement in a series of riots that sprung up in the wake of a police beating of a young man they all know.

All three performers deliver feisty and energetic turns, particularly from the then 28 year old Vincent Cassel who brings Vinz to life with a verve and fierceness that held him in good stead for what has been so far an extremely consistent and intriguing career and as Kassovitz throws his three characters, actors and audiences into the thick of an unpredictable time and place we are drawn into a life like and confronting drama that unfortunately feels as though it could’ve been drawn straight from today’s headlines.

Initially upon release only a minor hit despite strong reviews and audience reactions, La Haine’s ability to continue to be spoken about and affect modern day audiences has ensured its standing as one of the great examples of world cinema and one of the most memorable cinematic ventures France has ever produced, one that’s power was so evident upon release with then Prime Minister Alain Juppé screening the film for his parliament, such was its effectiveness in exploring issues present then and still today in the country.

Final Say –

A searing independent offering that may be rough around the edges in parts but still full of power and importance, La Haine is a once in a blue moon type cinematic offering that remains relevant and needful to this day.

4 missed trains out of 5

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